Technology Electronic Reviews
Volume 14, Number 1, June 2007
Return to more reviews in this issue
REVIEW OF: Brett O’Connor. (2007).
del.icio.us Mashups. Indianapolis, IN: Wiley Publishing, Inc. (ISBN: 0470097760 ; 9780470097762). 381 pp. $29.99.
By William G. LeFurgy
Mashups -- combining applications and data to make something new -- are currently at the forefront of innovation on the World Wide Web. Mashing is an expression of the Web 2.0 intent to give users more control over how content is described, accessed, manipulated, and displayed.
In response to enthusiasm for Web 2.0 ideas, Internet content providers now often make their data available for creative remixing. The results can be novel and compelling. By combining, for example, data from an online mapping service with data from an online real estate site, it is possible to generate a geographic representation of houses for sale (or apartments for rent) for a city or a neighborhood. It is also possible, through LibraryThing.com, to draw on worldwide bibliographic resources to catalog a personal book collection. While there are many pre-programmed mashups ready for use on the web, the concept practically begs for users to get involved themselves and "roll their own" to meet specific needs.
The del.icio.us web site was one of the first examples of Web 2.0 in action. In allowing users to store, describe, and use web bookmarks, del.icio.us does three things especially well. First, it permits complete flexibility in assignment of descriptor tags to bookmarks. Second, it connects a user’s tags and bookmarks with those of other users to enable a massive social network, which lets each user learn what others with similar interests also like. And third, del.icio.us is highly mash-able.
Brett O’Connor is a knowledgeable web developer who understands the allure of the mashup. He writes effectively for both the novice and the more experienced user, and frequently encourages the reader to use the book as a starting point for more experimentation. And while the book is essentially a technical manual chock full of computer terms and concepts, O’Conner does a worthy job of keeping the narrative flowing smoothly. His style is comfortably informal and keeps the inexperienced user out of overly-technical thickets. More advanced developers will find much of the book less useful, although its discussion of the del.icio.us API (Application Programming Interface) is thorough and broadly useful. Instructions for both the Windows XP and Mac OS X operating systems are included.
The book is effectively organized into five sections. The first section is a flyover of del.icio.us, including brief mentions of other web content that can be mashed, including that from Flickr and Amazon. Section two deals with some of the basic tools and services needed to construct mashups. Section three and four are guides to constructing several mashup projects involving del.icio.us. A summary of del.icio.us mashups created by professional developers is covered in section five.
From a library perspective,
del.icio.us Mashups addresses is the practical mechanics of mashing.
Where the book shines is its detailed understanding about how users can tap into the inner workings of del.icio.us. O’Conner has a good grasp of its technology underpinnings, as well as of how different kinds of projects can benefit from manipulating its data. He does well in pointing out uses that should -- and should not -- involve direct interaction with the del.icio.us API. This is helpful, because while the API offers rich opportunities, it is possible to achieve similar results for some objectives by other, simpler, means. Use of the API is, as O’Conner points out, a right not a privilege: inappropriate use can lead to being locked out.
This book is an excellent starting point for anyone interested in exploring del.icio.us through mashups. The reader will be able to start mashing right away and will develop skills to explore more advanced projects.
William G. LeFurgy (
) is a Digital Initiatives Project Manager in the Office of Strategic Initiatives at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC.
Copyright ÃÂÃÂ© 2007 by William G. LeFurgy. This document may be reproduced in whole or in part for noncommercial, educational, or scientific purposes, provided that the preceding copyright statement and source are clearly acknowledged. All other rights are reserved. For permission to reproduce or adapt this document or any part of it for commercial distribution, address requests to the author.
Technology Electronic Reviews (TER) is an irregular electronic serial publication of the Library and Information Technology Association, a division of the American Library Association, 50 E. Huron St., Chicago, IL 60611. The primary function of TER is to provide reviews of and pointers to a variety of print and electronic resources about information technology. Resources include books, articles, serials, discussion lists, training materials, bibliographies, and other items of interest to librarians and information technology professionals. The topics covered may include, but are not limited to, networking technologies and standards; hardware and software; operating systems; databases; specific programming languages; management tools and utilities; technical project management; training and personnel issues; library perspectives; and research and development.
Opinions expressed in this publication are those of the writers and do not necessarily represent the viewpoints of LITA, ALA, or organizations involved in the storage and/or distribution of the publication.
TER is distributed electronically via Internet. There is no subscription fee.
LITA provides its members, other ALA divisions and members, and the library and information science field as a whole with a forum for discussion, an environment for learning, and a program for action on the design, development, and implementation of automated and technological systems in the library and information science field.
LITA home page |
TER home page